MILLION DOLLAR ARM Fails to Pull at Our Heart Strings – Movie Review
It’s that time of year, a family friendly movie about an inspirational group of athletes that are formed from one man’s selfish need to earn money. That’s right folks it is the official start of Oscar bait season, well by Disney standards anyway. Welcome to Million Dollar Arm.
Based on a true story and set in 2008, Million Dollar Arm is about hotshot American sports agent J.B Bernstein played by Jon Hamm. He’s trying to make ends meet with his struggling company who are being outbid for clients by bigger companies. All seems lost when his friend and business partner Ash shows him cricket. After a few drinks and an odd mix of television viewing which includes Britain’s Got Talent and cricket J.B comes up with a unique idea. Million Dollar Arm, a talent show which tries to tap into the market of cricket players in India and recruit them for major league baseball.
Million Dollar Arm is your usual run of the mill inspirational story about a guy trying against the odds to do something in his career and along the way helps three really great guys achieve something monumental in their lives. It’s funny because watching Million Dollar Arm feels like you’re watching a watered down Jerry Maguire. Hamm plays a perfectly affable character but he never really interested me, I’ve seen him in far better roles with much better performances from him. J.B is made out to be a jerk but there is a lot of pressure on him and it felt like the movie was trying to force this evolution of his character on me, the best character journeys are the ones that just seem to happen and this is not one of them.
J.B is joined by Brenda Fenwick played by Lake Bell who is a decent love interest but I felt that the movie was again trying to push another journey on us. I’ll set the scene for you so you get the idea, J.B is in India for about half the movie and Brenda calls him on occasion to check in. Every time I saw her Skyping with J.B it felt like she was saying, ” hi audience I’m still here don’t forget me”. The only interesting characters in the whole movie are our Indian characters, Rinku Singh, Dinesh Patel and Amit Rohan played by Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal and Pitobash Tripathy respectively. If I’m being honest the movie should have been about these guys. From the culture shock from moving from India to America, the feeling of brotherhood between the three lads and their individual points of view on this amazing adventure they are having there is a whole movie there for the audience to enjoy. Instead we get a story about a grown man who learns about how to raise a family through helping three young Indian men acclimate to American culture. It’s a wasted opportunity if you ask me.
On some of the more positive points of Million Dollar Arm, India looks stunning, the cinematography at times is really great, especially during the scenes where Rinku and Dinesh show off their incredible skills. The dialogue is okay but there is a wonderfully scripted scene towards the end between the three Indian leads which tugs at the heartstrings because for all the problems with Million Dollar Arm, Sharma, Mittal and Tripathy are shining bright throughout the entire movie.
In the end, Million Dollar Arm is okay,that’s it. If it weren’t for Sharma, Mittal and Tripathy it would probably be a lot worse. It’s Oscar bait and the worst kind, the lazy kind. At just over two hours long it feels bloated and unnecessary at times. The human relationships feel tacked on and the overall focus of the movie should have been on the other half of the cast. Nice try Disney but it’s a strike out.